Geo News anchor Kamran Khan, in his November 12, 2012 programme, revealed that Pakistani officials had told Antiterrorism Court Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman on November 10, 2012 that terrorists who attacked and killed over 166 innocent people in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and that they had trained in various cities of Pakistan. The mastermind of this attack, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, is under trial at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
Five inspectors of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) deposed before the court that the terrorists had been trained in camps located in Mansehra, Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, Khairpur, Thatta, Lakro and Gadap Town in Karachi. This was a big revelation striking at the base of the ‘media war’ between India and Pakistan, during which the world correctly divined that the Indian media was more credible. Why did the FIA, which is prosecuting Lakhvi, decide to come clean?
One reason was the surrender to India by Saudi Arabia of Syed Zabihuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jandal, an Indian-born member of the LeT, who escaped from Pakistan after the Mumbai attack on a Pakistani passport. According to a deposition of the only terrorist captured in Mumbai, Ajmal Kasab, Abu Jandal was present in meetings in Karachi preparatory to the attack. Abu Jandal, after landing in India, implicated members of the Pakistan Army and the ISI agency in the planning of the attack.
Those who have seen the National Geographic documentary on the Mumbai attack should now be informed that the man who was on the phone talking to the Pakistani killers was this man, Abu Jandal. This nom de guerre is a favourite of the LeT, indicating acceptance of crime committed in the name of high faith.
In the July 2005 issue of the monthly Herald, Zulfiqar Ali described one of the terrorist camps in Mansehra where al Qaeda had interface with our jihadi organisations, including the LeT. The news in 2001 that the Mansehra camp had been disbanded was mere exaggeration. Before Osama bin Laden was finally made to live in Abbottabad, he thought he could be comfortable in Mansehra where al Qaeda was lending a hand.
One Pakistani journalist who lost his life telling the truth about the Mumbai attack was Saleem Shahzad. In his book Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (Pluto Press 2011), he wrote that it was al Qaeda who planned the Mumbai attack “through former Pakistan Army officers with help from the LeT without the knowledge of the ISI despite the fact that LeT was on ISI’s leash”. He wrote further:
“The Mumbai operation was actually the revival of an old ISI plan. The idea was to deflect the Pakistan Army away from Waziristan and get it to fight India instead. This nearly succeeded: Pakistan’s militant leaders Mullah Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud announced that they would fight alongside Pakistan’s armed forces in an India-Pakistan war and the director general of ISI, Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, confirmed this understanding in his briefing to national and foreign correspondents when he called Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud Pakistan’s strategic assets” (p.95).
After the US got hold of documents from Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad safe house establishing a communication link between him and Hafiz Saeed, it moved in 2012 to the final decision to place a bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed.
What is behind this ‘outing’ of Hafiz Saeed now? One reason the Indian press has given is Islamabad’s “keen desire to normalise relations between the two countries which came close to war in the months following the attacks”. The other is Hafiz Saeed’s defiance of policy-change in Rawalpindi.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2012.